The welcome mat is always out, inviting inspiration. I believe that the creative process is a unique experience for every person. I’ve read stacks of books advising how to nurture the artist within. One of the best is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert; Her conversational format was enjoyable to read and her advice something like practical and sisterly. I really identified with her bit about ideas coming to us by means of us inviting them – but if we don’t act upon them, they will move on to someone else. This explains how someone may have had the idea, only for someone else to bring it to life at a future date. So, when we have a wonderful idea, we must act upon it, or at least explore it, lest it be lost to the sands of time.
I gather a lot of inspiration from magazines: rich colors, glossy paper, the effort that goes into the photos with all the styling and originality. Heeding the advice of one of my favorite authors, Julia Cameron, I indulged my inner child and started cutting out photos of my favorite things and rubber cementing them into an oversize sketchbook. The result is a “diary” brimming with color swatches, extravagant floral arrangements, sweeping landscapes, photos of horses, and other creative “knick-knacks”. The result is two-fold; I find it creatively stimulating to indulge in the simple act of focusing on interesting objects; the other is a “tangible Pinterest”. These pages have inspired several dozen paintings, some successful, some tossed in a pile to be gessoed over. Either way, it has been fun. I think that’s the most important part of the creative process. Julia Cameron talks about this extensively in The Artist’s Way: she recommends that we allow ourselves the freedom to explore the fun and/or beautiful aspect of art with child-like delight, giving ourselves permission to simply enjoy ourselves.
I’ve employed these tactics for about a year now and my creative process has evolved from intermittent and somewhat forced into a garden bearing fruit. I’ve learned about my own creative “triggers” (I’m obsessed with color and design) and that I need a fair amount of privacy. I’ve heard this often, in various forms; contemporary artist Brian Rutenberg unapologetically stresses the requirement of aloneness in his book Clear Seeing Place.
This “new-school” way of thinking about the creative process is terrific in the sense that it strips away any pretentiousness about art and focuses on the why: why do we create? It’s like the cool art teacher you may have had as a child, the one that always encouraged you and saw the good about your invention, no matter the level of artist you were. It’s the freedom to dream, to put your brush to canvas without fear of flaw or failure.
Thank you for reading. I wish you that freedom, wherever you are in the creative spectrum. – Julie